Most of you may not have noticed the scarlet A I added to my site recently. Here is why I think it's relevant to India where while religiosity is rife there is no direct equivalent to the creationist movement in the Indian scenario. Creationism or not, religious scientific obscurantism is no stranger to our shores. And hopefully movements like these are beginnings of everyone, everywhere shedding their belief baggage.
The Indian religious right, the Sangh Parivar, is a protean, cynical and opportunistic beast and it as often attempts to envelop science as to reject it. The success of science is evident and invoking it is a way of garnering unearned legitimacy. Witness the absurd attempt to incorporate Astrology into our universities as a science.
Off course, science being, as it is in Flaubert's words "affranchissant esprit et pesant les mondes, sans haine, sans peur, sans pitie, sans amour et sans Dieu" occasionally doesn't quite fit the Hindu right wing agenda and it doesn't in the current Sethusamudaram fiasco. Or, off course, conveniently fits its desire to provoke people at a time when things at the center are teetering anyway, depending on how you see it. Incidentally this is the Sethusamudaram corporations website which suggests that the entire exercise was revived in 2001 after a long dormancy by the BJP led NDA alliance, I quote
"After several studies, the government took a concrete step towards the execution of the project when Rs. 4.8 crore was allocated for a feasibility study of the Sethusamudram Ship channel Protect in the 2000-01 Union Budget"
I don't know if the Sethusamudaram project itself is a great idea, there has been considerable opposition to it on environmental and economical grounds. It's these ground's that we need to debate these issues on. Sentiments and feeling as we have seen are notoriously changeable and should have no place in public discourse.
I do wish, like Krish, that we had public intellectuals willing to take a stand on the issue. But as we've seen before that can be a dangerous thing and freedom of speech in India is like our peace, contingent. What might be better still would be that people gradually gave up these beliefs or at least learned to treat them as just that, beliefs. False stories we concocted, to protect ourselves from the demons without. Stories we embellished to entertain and enrich our imaginations. So much easier if you don't believe to begin with.
Update: I think the wish about having academics/intellectuals chime in has been at least partially fulfilled. Now to get the MSM to treat them seriously and the 'aam junta' to actually listen!
Two great posts from Suvrat Kher on the science that shows the Ram Sethu is a natural formation: Ram Sethu : A Dummies Guide & Adam's Bridge. These posts lead to Sujai's blog and a few basics there: ABC of Ram Sethu and a lament on the silence of the lambs.
Links from Abi on DesiPundit